If you’ve ever had to deal with a dry and itchy scalp, you know it’s anything but fun. Not only is it frustrating and uncomfortable, it can also put you in some pretty awkward and embarrassing situations. And with winter just around the corner, your scalp problems are only about to get worse.
Exposure to the elements, color treatments and fungal infections are common reasons your scalp is becoming dry, flaky and itchy, but there are other factors that contribute to scalp damage. For starters, did you know that overwashing your hair can actually cause your scalp to become dry and itchy? That’s one of the things we learned from Gary L. Marder, D.O., founder of Dr. Marder Scalp Therapy, when we chatted with him about what causes and how to relieve a dry and itchy scalp.
“Sometimes, just like the rest of your skin, your scalp can be sensitive, so any product or chemical could cause an allergic reaction and the scalp to become dry and itchy,” explains Dr. Marder. But it’s not only what you’re putting on your hair that can cause an irritation as dryness and itchiness can also be tell-tale signs of other skin conditions.
“If you have a dry and itchy scalp, it could be from a condition called seborrheic dermatitis or psoriasis, which flares up when you’re under increased stress or your immune system is compromised,” Dr. Marder adds.
The good news is, it’s possible to manage a dry and itchy scalp once you give it the right attention. Dr. Marder suggests steering clear of products with too many chemicals that could worsen your problem. Instead, reach for “a calming product that reduces inflammation, treats a natural fungus/yeast that grows on the scalp and reduces the itch.” Moisturizing is also key in keeping itchiness and dryness at bay, so stock up on shampoos infused with oils and other nourishing ingredients like aloe vera.
At home, Dr. Marder says there are plenty of steps you can take to prevent scalp damage or keep the condition from worsening. “Reduce your stress levels and get plenty of sleep. Make sure you drink plenty of water and eat a balanced diet that is low in sugar. Additionally, don’t pull your hair back too tight as it may cause irritation,” he adds. If the situation doesn’t improve even after treatment, schedule a visit with your dermatologist to rule out other skin conditions.
Ready to restore your scalp’s itch-free and healthy glory? Below are our top recommendations!
With active ingredients like salicylic acid and wheat protein, this nourishing shampoo works by loosening dry skin to make cleansing easier and by strengthening hair follicles to prevent bald spots and hair loss. The best part? It’s gentle-enough for color-treated hair.
True to its name, this soothing shampoo revitalizes your scalp with the exfoliating properties of Binchotan charcoal to detoxify and cleanse while coconut oil works to prevent dryness. Its unique peppermint, spearmint and tea tree oil complex provides a cooling effect to the scalp as it reduces itchiness, flaking and irritation.
Apple cider vinegar is known for its many health benefits and the scalp is no exception. This exfoliating scrub gently unclogs pores and sloughs off dead skin cells while rebalancing your scalp’s pH levels. It also features avocado oil and aloe vera that soothe and moisturize and a color-locking technology that leaves hair color intact.
According to Dr. Marder, certain ingredients in hair products are known to cause scalp dryness and itchiness—something you don’t have to worry about with Keranique’s Scalp Revitalizing Shampoo & Conditioner. Formulated without parabens, phthalates and sulfates, this ultra-mild shampoo gently cleanses and moisturizes each strand of hair without damaging your scalp. Its keratin amino complex strengthens and protects hair while its True Tone Technology helps in preventing dullness and fading in color-treated hair.
Seborrheic dermatitis is known to cause a dry and itchy scalp, but these symptoms can be easily managed with this zinc shampoo. Its formula features two percent zinc pyrithione, which nourishes and soothes your locks and scalp while alleviating itchiness and flaking.
Just as its name suggests, this shampoo “treats all the potential causative agents” of dryness and itchiness such as irritation, eczema and psoriasis, says Dr. Marder. It features the first active-hydrocortisone formula that prevents scaling, promotes a quicker healing process and reduces outbreaks. Infused with vitamin E and green tea extract, it protects against free radical damage while conditioning each hair follicle with vitamin B5.
Treatment shampoos can sometimes aggravate dryness, so keep this shampoo within reach to gently restore your scalp’s pH balance, improve hydration and reduce flaking. Formulated for ultra-sensitive scalps, it features panthenol to keep hair soft, supple and silky.
If dandruff is keeping you itchin’ and scratchin’, this shampoo is for you. Featuring panthenol, tea tree and peppermint oils and aloe vera, this weekly hair treatment relieves tightness and flaking due to dryness, rebalances, rehydrates and calms irritation with its antiseptic and antibacterial benefits. For best results, apply to your scalp before wetting!
When it comes to natural hair care products, it doesn’t get any purer than 100% Pure Healthy Scalp Shampoo. Formulated for all hair types, this soothing shampoo gently cleanses hair of dirt, product residue and excess oil without stripping its natural moisture and irritating the scalp. It relieves itch and flaking with neem and burdock extracts, leaving your hair soft and flake-free.